Teachers teach. It is not a new concept. That information passes down from a learned person to a learning person has always been the premise. But some may not know just how much the students can teach their teacher. I am discovering that daily.
The Ebanista School of Fine Woodworking is just completing its first year of welcoming students to the school/shop at the east side of Green Lake in Seattle, Wa. They remind me how ceaselessly invigorating it has been for me to be a furniture maker these more than 40 years. Many of the students have day jobs, and although most come in a little tired from work, they seem to leave class each time buzzing with new energy. Imagine that! Work that leaves you more juiced than when you started. (And yes I am VERY proud of this, three have already told me that they are going to or have already quit their jobs to do “this” full time)
I have learned that although some come to Ebanista with the idea that they are “not that good with their hands”, together we have put that misgiving to rest. There are some people who haven’t taught their hands to feel and touch thus far in their lives, but none that cannot learn.
I am learning after a lifetime of willfully pushing myself forward to constantly be growing and creating, it is more than okay to slow down and listen to my students as I have learned to listen to my wood.
In the Design Studio, we are learning together that really good ideas can and often do arise from what seems like a harmless doodle, but is really rooted in deeper creative ideas that are seemingly less understood, but are instinctively gold.
And although I have never tired of hearing the sweet “shhiiikkkk” of a sharp plane slicing a gossamer shaving of wood, every single one of our students has felt that same satisfaction the very first time they try that at Ebanista.
And lastly, and I take great delight in this, so many processes I have done hundreds or even thousands of times have become so woven into my muscles and become so “natural”, when students ask me to explain them, it is like pulling the curtain from in front of the Wizard of Oz, and I am exposed (hopefully, not for a charlatan), and I have to rediscover why I do things the way I do.
I expect to continue learning with each and every student the way I have with each and every project I have completed, and this too is proving immensely satisfying.